Creating a Health System That Works for All of Us Will Take a Collaborative Effort
Making health care more affordable is a priority not just in Indiana but across our country. Having access to quality, affordable care is an essential part of a community's well-being and it will take all of us— insurance companies, drug companies, hospitals, and employers working together to achieve it. Hospitals are also large employers who provide coverage for employees and their families, and we understand the need to reduce health care costs.
Hospitals are embracing the serious dialogue taking place at the state and federal level, bringing forward possible solutions. While hospitals have sometimes been singled out in the debate, as with all complex problems, it will require all parties working collaboratively to create a health system that works for all of us.
We understand that the status quo is not an option. Our current system of health care financing is one that pays doctors, hospitals, and others for taking care of people when they're sick. In many cases, if patients had received preventive care, or if they had better managed a chronic condition such as diabetes, it would have reduced the need for more complex and expensive treatment. In fact, about 15% of the population accounts for about 75% of health care spending.
Unfortunately, this approach is especially problematic in our state, as Indiana ranks near the bottom of most public health metrics. With 50 being the worst, Indiana ranks 41st in overall health, 42nd in cancer deaths and 44th in percentage of smokers. This didn't happen overnight, and it will also take collaboration in this area to make improvements. Poor public health impacts us all in quality of life and health care costs.
Hospitals are actively trying to bend the cost curve by keeping Hoosiers healthier and changing the current system to one that focuses on prevention and results. Some hospitals are contracting directly with employers, bypassing the traditional insurance model. In one example, this “direct-to-employer" model saved a county government $1 million a year and significantly reduced health care premiums, putting more money into employees' pockets. And in addition to the savings, the quality and employee satisfaction numbers are stellar.
Other hospitals are establishing on-site clinics at the employer's location, making it easy for workers to access preventative care and better manage chronic conditions which improves patients' quality of life and reduces costs. We are seeing tremendous results and patient satisfaction from these partnerships with businesses, schools, and local governments.
In the long term, we believe the entire health care system needs to move away from today's model when people see a doctor only when they are sick to one that focuses on prevention, improving quality, and reducing costs. By shifting the focus to early interventions, we can prevent the need for more expensive care down the road. From regional health systems to rural hospitals, our members are working on this shift, but we cannot do it alone. Success will require deeper collaboration with insurers, other stakeholders, and employers.
Indiana's hospitals are here to serve you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Every day, doctors, nurses and others care for thousands of patients, providing hope and healing. It will take all of us working together to build a health care system that is cost-effective and delivers superior outcomes.
- Brian Tabor, IHA President